START CLOSE IN
by David Whyte
Start close in,
don’t take the second step
or the third,
start with the first
the step you don’t want to take.
Read full poem, reprinted by permission.
Knowing the next first step is essential to mastering how to work smarter and not harder on improving your life. Self knowledge and awareness will be essential, and ironically, it’s easier to know our self with the help and perspective of others.
I understand that ongoing health symptoms creep into every area of your life, and that even the littlest things can sometimes make the difference between a good and bad day. I know about the challenge of trying not to lose ground in one area – like work or family – only to lose considerable ground in others, like sleep or housework or fun… Figuring out what do next – even if you’ve lived with the condition for years – can be a never-ending dilemma.
I believe in starting close in – gently helping you discover what you know to be the next first step from wherever you are right now. Together, we’ll find the steps that leverage change – steps with the least effort and the most impact. As you move forward, you will feel yourself gaining traction and begin to experience positive momentum. With momentum comes confidence. And riding alongside confidence is hope. And when the setbacks come (as they inevitably will), you’ll be able to get back up more quickly, and you won’t be regrouping alone. You’ll have an ally in me. You’ll have a personal champion. And hopefully, you’ll also have a new perspective and some new tools and strategies.
Together, we’ll look at:
- Getting clear on your highest priorities and values
- Creating your personalized pace of change and self-management
- Create relevant strategies for dealing with what’s happening now
- Removing obstacles to progress
- Building on your existing strengths
- Generating new skills and tools for self-management and self-advocacy
- Finding the Gifts of illness
The value of an ally and personal champion
There can be no return on an investment you don’t make. One irony of having a chronic condition is that it will probably take more effort to create a future you can love, at a time when you may be feeling less like doing more. And despite the concern and care of those in your life, you may be feeling more alone, as it’s very difficult for others to really understand what life is like for you now if they’ve not experienced something similar. And even if they have, your experience will be uniquely your own, and your style of reclaiming your life will look different than anyone else’s.
I believe that wise and discerning coaching and guidance can possibly add years of living well to your life by shortening your readjustment time – by changing your relationship with your health into one of wellness vs. fighting. Helping you become increasingly capable of integrating illness into your life so you can keep on living. Even one tiny step at a time beats the hell out of stopping. You’re not a patient. You’re not a sick person. You’re a person with ongoing health challenges who wants to keep on living well!
Your Highest Priorities
We’ll sort out the most important things so they don’t get lost in the seeming “urgent” demands of life. Many of us weren’t living lives in alignment with what we’d say are the most important things before we got sick or injured. Now, the gap between where we are and where we say we want to go is often even larger. You couldn’t do it all before, you definitely can’t now. But you can accomplish the things that matter most. You can do the most important things. It might not look the same as you’d imagined it. But then, when has life ever been exactly like you imagined it anyway?
The Right Pace for You
I’ll help you discover a manageable pace of change, growth and adjustment that works for you and your life – keeping you moving forward with hope, and avoiding long periods of stagnation and despair.
Because there’s little time to waste. Because not every step (i.e. choice, action or decision) will take you in the direction you want to go. Not every step is indeed the first good step. There ARE blind alleys. There ARE pathways that will take you in the opposite direction you want to go and make things even harder. I can help you see how the little things fit into the bigger picture of your life and future, so you can make choices and take steps that advance instead of hinder your goals.
Creating Relevant Strategies
“That which hinders your task, is your task” Sanford Meisner
A new situation requires a new approach. In my experience, trying to move beyond limitations (read: ignoring or denying my new reality) might gain me a few things in the short run, but in the long run it usually increases my suffering by reducing my capacity to live – taking me farther away from where I want to go rather than closer. Also, trying to navigate these new obstacles with old strategies, is probably going to create more frustration and failure. If the problem is that there’s a fallen tree in your path, and your typical reaction is to go faster, then you’re just going to create more
The pain, the fear, the low energy, the worrying, the treatments, the uncertainty… All these things and more seem to hinder a decent or “normal” life. Trying to do more and do it faster is usually not the solution. I can help you develop ways to dance with and through these obstacles, as there is usually no way around them.
And yet, there ARE obstacles we CAN move out of the way to make your new life more manageable and your future more loveable. Things that might be in your way include:
Commitments and obligations that are harming your health
Bad Habits and routines that are working against wellness
Addictions that you can no longer afford
People who are accomplices to bad habits or who take more energy than they give
Denial about your current limitations
Beliefs that limit what you CAN do
Environmental/logistical issues – this might literally be a piece of furniture in the way, or using earplugs to sleep
Unrealistic expectations – yours and those of others
Building on Existing Strengths
I’ll help you explore your obvious and perhaps not-so-obvious assets, believing that you have considerable talents and abilities in your pack that got you to here. I’ll encourage you to dig into that pack for your strengths, gifts and perhaps even discover hidden or forgotten abilities. For you, that might include:
- Learning to apply your skills – like organizing or problem solving or helping others… – to new areas of your life
- Rediscovering abandoned talents or interests that could serve you well now
- Closely evaluating what IS working and why – and keep doing that
- Using your gifts to fully express yourself in ways different than you’ve grown accustomed to
Improvements and New Skills
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
— Pablo Picasso
We’ll identify and add in some new skills (or old rusty ones) that you perhaps haven’t needed lately, but might now. This might include creating or cultivating:
- Ways of listening closely to what your body is telling you
- Knowing what you want and asking for help
- Accepting help gracefully
- Tools and strategies (workarounds) that reduce the impact of limitations
- Setting and enforcing boundaries without guilt
- Turning vulnerabilities into strengths and power
- Self compassion and forgiveness
- The art of gratitude
- Celebrating milestones and accomplishments
- Better advocacy with health care professionals
- Managing your expectations of others and their reactions
- Creating or strengthening habits and routines for living well
Gifts of Illness?
To be clear, most of us would prefer to not have the illnesses or conditions we have. Speaking of the “gifts” of illness is not my attempt to sugarcoat this. AND, if you want to go there, there will be opportunities for learning, growth and even grace that you otherwise might not have had. Good can be found in the bad, and that doesn’t necessarily make the bad good. If you know what I mean…
There are opportunities for new learning and new appreciations about life and living that we’d not have gotten without getting sick. And these potential gifts and even epiphanies are worth acknowledging, celebrating and sharing. New wisdom can bring new and lasting confidence and hope.
Send me an email with any questions